The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Cakes


Whether you’re dreaming about a 3-tier masterpiece or a simple sponge, your wedding cake will undoubtedly be a highlight of the day. But, you might be surprised to learn exactly what’s involved in choosing the perfect cake for your nuptials!

From serving sizes to flavor combinations, we’re here to answer all of your wedding cake FAQs below. Read on as we share the ultimate guide to wedding cakes, including some sweet traditions you may want to adopt for your special day.

Photo via Audra Wrisley

What Size Wedding Cake Do We Need?

One of the most important considerations when choosing your wedding cake is determining the right size. To figure out how many portions of cake you need, you should first consider your guest list. Generally speaking, between 80 – 90% of your guests will want a piece of cake, but you may prefer to cater for all guests (or even add extra portions for leftovers) just to be safe.

Next, consider the portion size you would like to serve. Keep in mind that a standard wedding cake serving is typically between 1-2 inches.

Finally, think about the size and shape of your desired cake. Do you want a simple 1-tier cake, or a more extravagant 3-tier design? Once you’ve determined these details, your cake baker can guide you on the best cake size to meet your needs. 

If you have a large guest list but don’t necessarily want a large cake, you can also opt for a smaller display cake (for cake-cutting purposes) and use a sheet cake for the remainder of your guests.

Photo via Aaron and Jillian

Wedding Cake Styles and Flavors

Now for the fun part – choosing your flavor combinations! When it comes to wedding cake flavors, the options are truly endless. And here’s the best part – you don’t need to choose just one flavor. If you’re opting for a 2-tier or 3-tier cake, you can choose a different flavor profile for each tier.

Wedding cake flavors range from traditional (such as chocolate, vanilla, or red velvet) to more unique (think lemon and raspberry, coconut and lime, or peanut butter!). There are also different frosting options to consider, including buttercream, fondant, ganache, or royal icing. A cake tasting is the perfect way to sample some different options, so be sure to ask your cake baker if this is something they offer. You can read our guide to booking a cake baker for your wedding here.

The style of your wedding cake is something else you’ll need to think about. From simple sponge cakes adorned with fresh flowers, to multi-tier cakes with intricate fondant patterns, there are so many possibilities to choose from. Keep in mind that the design of your wedding cake is an aesthetic choice, so draw inspiration from your wedding theme and vision to help you choose a style that best complements this. Pinterest is a great place to browse wedding cake ideas and inspiration!

Photo via Dee Olmstead

Wedding Cake Cutting Etiquette and FAQs

Now, let’s talk about the cake-cutting process and exactly how this fits into your wedding reception timeline. We’ve rounded up some of the most common wedding cake-cutting FAQs below!

  • Do we need to do a cake cutting?

Hosting a traditional “cake cutting” is completely up to you. You may love the idea of gathering your loved ones together for a cake-cutting ceremony, or you might prefer to cut the cake in a more intimate setting with just the two of you. Whatever you decide, we’d recommend having your photographer there to capture the moment.

  • When should we cut our wedding cake?

Cake cutting would traditionally be done at the end of the night, signaling guests that they are welcome to head home. These days, cake-cutting ceremonies typically happen earlier in the evening – after dinner service has ended, but before dancing begins. It’s a good idea to make this the last “official” event of the evening (eg: after speeches and toasts) so elderly guests know they can leave the party without missing any of the formalities.

Photo via Carmen Santorelli
  • What do we need to provide for our cake-cutting?

A set of cake knives will be essential for your cake cutting, so be sure to check whether this is provided by your venue. If not, this is something you’ll need to supply. Some optional extras you may want to provide include a cake topper, and cake boxes for guests to take leftovers home. Depending on your venue, you may also need to hire cake plates and forks if these aren’t included in your package.

  • How long does cake cutting take?

From gathering your guests together to cutting the cake itself, we’d suggest allocating around 10 minutes for the cake-cutting formalities on your wedding timeline – or longer if you’re also making a speech.

  • Who serves the wedding cake?

After you and your spouse make the first official cut, your catering team will likely take the cake away to a more private area to finish cutting the slices. With this in mind, it’s important to let your caterer know how many slices are needed, and the size of each portion.

Your catering team will also be responsible for serving your wedding cake. They may distribute slices to each individual guest, or set up a dedicated table for guests to serve themselves. 

Photo via Stephanie Brauer

Wedding Cake Traditions

Finally, consider the following cake traditions you may want to adopt for your special day:

  • Freezing the top tier. Many couples choose to freeze the top tier of their wedding cake and enjoy it on their first wedding anniversary. This is thought to symbolize good luck and prosperity!
  • Wedding cake pulls. Dating back to the Victorian era, a cake pull involves the bride and her bridesmaids (or single female friends) pulling charms from the cake before it is cut. Each charm is attached to a ribbon and is thought to signify the puller’s fortune.
  • Feeding each other. Traditionally, couples would feed each other a piece of cake directly after the cake-cutting. This is thought to symbolize your commitment to providing for each other.
  • Using a cake topper. Whether you opt for traditional “bride and groom” toppers or something more unique, a custom cake topper can be a great way to personalize your design.

Looking for more wedding cake ideas? Check out our dedicated Pinterest board here to be inspired!